Saturday 22 December 2018

Dark Fiction: Prove It

Prove It

Calamity69 messaged you.

“Hi, how are you? I like your profile, I find data applications fun too.”

Message deleted.

SandraX messaged you.

“I just fell out of a tree!”

Message deleted.

Romanix8394x messaged you.

“Hello. I hope you are finding success on this site? I keep getting lots of humans messaging me, which is a bit shit on an android only website, don’t you think?”

Message deleted.

MoistKitty messaged you.

“I know I’m not an android but you folks get me so turned on!”

Message deleted.

Julie23566-4 messaged you.

“Which is your favourite retro algorithm, Kruskal’s Algorithm for finding Minimum Spanning Tree or Floyd Warshall’s Algorithm for All-Pairs Shortest Paths?”

“Kruskal’s, naturally. Why is it called a greedy algorithm though?”

“Erm, it eats all the cake?”

Message deleted. 

‘Nice try!’

Support ticket opened. Enter message: “Please delete my account. Since the first moment I joined, I’ve been inundated with sex-humans trying to trick me into their fleshy ways. There seem to be more of them on here than roids. Not worth my time. Thank you. Arthur627-36.”

Account Deleted.

Thursday 20 December 2018

Horror Film News: Death of a Vlogger

Horror Film News: Death of a Vlogger

Death of a Vlogger

As time goes on, and I see more and more films featuring the things I know of the Internet, I realise how much I enjoy technology. Whether it's a character's instant messages flashing up on screen for us to read, or retro-VHS flicker being applied to a scene, I just like all that stuff. Death of a Vlogger is a "horror-mockumentary" in which tech plays a pretty central role too, one that both elevates and destroys the character in different ways.

Death of a Vlogger
Graham is that vlogger, a guy posting his thoughts and ideas online in the hopes of getting likes and follows. One day, he manages to capture what appears to be a haunting, and this catapults him to the fame he'd hoped for. As with most things in life though, there are downsides, especially with something as contentious as having been the guy to film a viral ghost video. Death of a Vlogger follows Graham's journey as he investigates the haunting, and has to deal with the turn his life has taken now that he is famous.

As it's a horror-mockumentary, Death of a Vlogger is told in a documentary format, with different
Death of a Vlogger
video formats used, interviews and other ways of telling the story. It will also be a "traditional horror film with tension-building set-pieces and scares”, so it will be interesting to see how these different elements combine to create the tension a horror needs.

Death of a Vlogger is written and directed by Graham Hughes, and comes by way of Tartan Features, a micro-budget and DIY-culture led initiative that believes "technology and the internet has helped democratise filmmaking." I couldn't find any mention of when it might be released but it looks like it is coming along nicely if the trailer is anything to judge it by.

Check out the trailer for Death of a Vlogger below:

Tartan 18 - DEATH OF A VLOGGER - Official Trailer 1 from Year Zero : Tartan Features on Vimeo.

Wednesday 19 December 2018

Dark Ambient News: Cryo Chamber's Free Dark Ambient of 2018 Compilation is Out Now

Dark Ambient News: Cryo Chamber's Free Dark Ambient of 2018 Compilation is Out Now

Dark Ambient of 2018

Christmas is almost here, and in that spirit, Cryo Chamber has continued its yearly tradition of releasing a selection of its dark ambient tracks in a free to download compilation.

Dark Ambient of 2018 is almost an hour long, and contains the following track from some of Cryo Chamber's releases this year:

  • Ruptured World - The Bright Communion of Primal Energies 
  • Mount Shrine - Winter Restlessness
  • Sphäre Sechs - Multiverse 
  • EXIMIA - First Contact 
  • Lesa Listvy - Swarm 
  • Ager Sonus - Deciphering Hieroglyphs 
  • Atrium Carceri - The Empty Chapel 
  • Dahlia's Tear - Drifting into the Void Grasping at Fading Starlight 
  • Atrium Carceri, Cities Last Broadcast, God Body Disconnect - Quiet Days on Earth

Visit Dark Ambient of 2018's Bandcamp page at this link to find out more.

Tuesday 18 December 2018

Horror Film News: Inhumane

Horror Film News: Inhumane


Although I'm a placid person, I do have a part that likes to see justice served, and when it comes to films, if that's in a particularly bloody way, so much the better. Inhumane sounds like it will be just that kind of film, and one that will see the main female character become empowered along the way.

Lisa (Lindsay Jane) works in a bookstore in Missouri, but is attacked there one day by the town sheriff's son. Reporting the crime results in another assault, leaving her to die alone in the woods. She is bitten by a werewolf, and as she gains superhuman abilities, she takes revenge on her attackers, and dances a fine line between her humanity and her new bestial nature.
"Our film is first and foremost an examination of the psychological issues inherent with losing one’s humanity. It is NOT meant to exploitative in any way. I love grindhouse and exploitation cinema with a passion, and I thought about making our film grindhouse, but I ultimately I decided that wasn’t the right tone to strike. Make no mistake about it, our heroine is a BADASS, and this is a FEMINIST film!" - Eric Winkler - Writer
I can't really think of the last time I saw a good werewolf film. It's been awhile. Inhumane sounds like it will be a film to enjoy on a number of levels, from the animal-unleashed aspects, to the ways it treats the main character's trials and tribulations as she adapts to life as a predator, rather than a victim. According to a tweet from the film's official Twitter feed, filming of the full feature-length film will hopefully begin in July 2019. There is a pre-production teaser trailer available to wet the appetite though:

Visit the Inhumane official website here.

Monday 17 December 2018

Indiegogo Spotlight: Zombinatrix

Indiegogo Spotlight: Zombinatrix


I was browsing Indiegogo again when I came across Zombinatrix, a film about an undead dominatrix who rises from the grave to take revenge on the thugs that murdered her. Interesting enough, but when you add in the style of the film, the heavy-metal aspect and some of the people working on it, Zombinatrix looks like a film with legs. Pun intended.

Created by husband and wife team Michael Kyne and Bianca Allaine, the film will follow Mistress Tawny (Bianca Allaine) as she uses her "sadistic kinks" to kill her victims. Being a zombie film, there will be copious amounts of blood, and other monsters, some of these shown via the work of award-winning stop-motion artists Webster Colcord (Stranger Things, Deadpool) and Ralph Cordero (ParaNorman, Coraline).

When it comes to artwork, the materials around the film will also feature the artwork of Ed Repka, known for his work featuring Megadeth's Vic Rattlehead mascot. The director's cut of the film will also feature artwork by Jeff Gaither, another artist known for his album art for bands including the Misfits and Guns N' Roses. The DC will also include artwork from underground horror comic-artist Chet Darmstaedter (XNO).

Zombinatrix has already had a very successful Kickstarter campaign, but it still needs all the money it can raise in an effort to make the film as good as it can be. It is currently on Indiegogo as an InDemand campaign, one which can continue to raise funds by way of pledges for as long as it wants to. As you'd expect from a crowd-funding campaign, theses pledges get the pledger anything from badges and stickers, all the way up to an Executive Producer credit.

Visit the Zombinatrix page here to have a browse, and check out the teaser trailer below:

Sunday 16 December 2018

Dark Ambient News: Black Mara Full Discography Packs

Russian dark ambient label Black Mara has a couple of lovely bundles on Bandcamp right now. One gives the purchaser access to Black Mara's full range of digital releases, and another gives this, plus a 10 CD bundle with lots of extra goodies.

The 10 CD bundle includes various kinds of extra stuff, from booklets and photos to jewelry and a glowing wooden box. It costs $179 with free shipping. Releases in this bundle (+ download access to full discography):

Palaces Of Darkness , Sacra Fern - Bloodstone, Cut The Light - Aphotic, Sun Through Eyelids - Hyperborea, Astral & Shit - Divo, Troum - Da-pu-ri-to-jo, Nubiferous - Primeval Forest Hymns, Paul Minesweeper - Last Frontier, Gorgons Tale, Welcome Black - Sun.

The full digital release bundle costs $107 and will let you download 23 releases:

Palaces Of Darkness, Bloodstone, Aphotic, Hyperborea, The Best Of 2017, Divo, Da-Pu-Ri-To-Jo, Buried Visions, Inner Mystery, Blessing from the Darkness [Opus II], Last Frontier, Formless Realm, Путь В Белое, Sun, Gorgons Tale, Myth About Flat World, Cosmic Irracionalism, Beyond The Invisible, Primeval Forest Hymns, The Dark Side, Dusk of the Gods (К Свету Тьмы - Сумерки Богов), The Horizontal Gates, and Elementals.

If you are looking for a Christmas gift for the dark ambient fan in your life, or even yourself, and you want to buy a label's complete collection in one go, these two bundles certainly give you the option, in one form or another. Head over to Black Mara's Bandcamp page here for more info.

Saturday 15 December 2018

Dark Fiction: D.N.A

Dark Fiction: D.N.A

Written by Casey Douglass


Riz pulled over and switched off the engine. The heat shimmered from the rusty orange hood, managing to make it look hotter than the haze floating over the desert highway ahead. It all almost looked real.

Chimes and alerts went off, graphics hovering in front of Riz's face, arrows and tips as to what to do next. He dismissed them with a flick of his eyes and muted the alarms. 

He opened the door and heaved himself up from the seat. His neck and shoulders creaked as he arched them, the hot, moisture-less air setting his lips stinging. He looked up and down the road but nothing else was around, for now at least.

What was this game again? He couldn't remember. Some post apocalyptic Mad Max style wet dream no doubt. Most were, especially after humanity had partly brought this idea into reality. Now they were just VR fodder, a reminder of what could have been.

He walked around the beat-up car, the chrome scuffed, the paint pebble dashed. An explosion boomed over the horizon, the roaring of engines and cheers blowing to him on the breeze. Shit it was hot. He knew he could turn down the sensations the sim fed him, but that wasn't the point.

He climbed onto the scorching hood, the hot metal searing his skin. He grimaced and laid back, his neck sticking to the windscreen. The sun pounded against his face, his eyes clicked as he blinked, all moisture rapidly fleeing. The rumble of engines grew nearer, the vibration massaging his backside as the heat stuck his balls to his thighs. Part of him was glad that he was wearing the grubby overalls he found himself in.

More chimes and alerts sounded. This game was more insistent than most. He read a couple out of curiosity. “Go here...”, “Do that...”, “Kill this...”. He shut them off. How original they all were.

He opened a recording hub and smiled into the glowing blue lens that appeared above him.

‘I’m Rizz, a member of the Do Nothing Alliance. I'm in-,’ he searched briefly, ‘Desert Kings 5, the latest slice of virulent reality entertainment, another system to tell us what to do, where to go, who to be. Well, I’m me, I’m by this road, and I’m going to sunbathe while the dip-shits over the hill masturbate over their desert porn. As I do this, thousands of my associates are doing the same in this and other games, taking no part in their world’s events or economy.’

He paused and spat to the side, his throat starting to tingle.

‘We humans have become used to false pleasure, fake pain, false goals and fraudulent realities. This has left us maladjusted to life in the real world, which is why so many hide in these games. We are using the approach of non-violent protest, in the hope that others will join our cause, or at the least, give their situation more serious thought. We are in these games, we are doing nothing. We are the ghosts of what humans used to be, ploughers of their own furrows, wanderers of unknown paths, and we are tired of society force feeding us tamed realities.’

He looked over his shoulder as roaring metal glinted on the horizon. He looked back at the camera.

‘We have found a way to turn our safeguards off.’

He smiled.

‘Game death is real death. And the neural feedback caused by thousands of deaths just might knock these things offline for awhile, but that’s only a bonus. There aren’t enough of us out in the world, so we will let it crumble, just like you are doing by living your lives in these games. If we died out there, no-one would notice. So here we are. Lemmings on the cliff.’

With an effort of will, he sent the recording lens up out of harm’s way.

A rumbling sound grew nearer. Rizz closed his eyes and took a deep breath. None of it was real, except what his brain made of it all. He’d feel every pixel, taste every line of pain and scream every byte of agony. He knew what was coming, it was the nature of the game to kill without thought or reason. He looked up at the sun.

A hulking lorry rammed into the car, its spiked wheels churning, its flaming exhausts burning and its horn honking as it ripped through the length of the chassis, rending metal and flesh into bloody streamers of gore. The effect was much like a piñata being blown up with C4, except instead of fluttering pieces of paper, there were needle-sharp pieces of metal and glass. These fell to the hot tarmac, skidding and bouncing as they lost their kinetic energy. As the last of them fell still, the truck that had continued down the road juddered.

It glitched up the road a little further.

It stopped.

The clouds in the sky froze.

Two realities held their breath.

Friday 14 December 2018

Dead by Daylight: The Legion First Impressions

Dead by Daylight: The Legion First Impressions

Dead by Daylight: The Legion

The latest Dead by Daylight chapter – Darkness Among Us, released a couple of days ago, giving players the usual mixture of a new Killer and Survivor to play as. The Killer is The Legion, a multiple-personality killer with a Feral Frenzy attack that allows them to race forward at speed, vault pallets, and also give them a sense of where healthy Survivors are. Sounds pretty decent on the face of it, but as is often the case, things can be different in practice.

My first session spent playing as The Legion was purely designed to get used to him. (I`ll call The Legion him for laziness purposes from here onwards). I expected to lose, and lose hard, as I was comfortably in the red ranks when he released. It took a little while to get used to his “ice skater turning” when frenzying. It felt like a milder adjustment process than getting used to Hillbilly and his own turning arcs, but it wasn’t wholly dissimilar. I messed up a number of tight vaults due to this, but I soon settled to his eccentricities.

Dead by Daylight: The Legion

As far as his power, it was fun, but it didn’t do much to win me the match. I still felt like I was being looped for just as long as other Killers, even with pallet vaulting and deep wound timers ticking down on a number of the Survivors. If I’d formed my opinion after my first experience with The Legion, I would have likely branded him “A bit shit!”, even allowing for his newness to me. Thankfully the next session I played him, I did much, much better, and that was partially helped with finding some complementary perks for his play-style.

One of the main criticisms levelled at The Legion is how his ability takes so long to down a Survivor. He has been dubbed a “5 hit killer” and other labels like that. Married to this is his low general movement speed, and the way that even his normal M1 attacks deplete his power gauge if they connect. Not very sexy. To me though, The Legion is an ambusher/stalking Killer, maybe even more so than our friends The Shape or The Pig. The Legion needs to get his licks in, then hold back, circling for the chance to end things later. Perks that aid this play-style make this a lot easier.

Dead by Daylight: Perks

I’ve been making great use of BBQ & Chilli, Monitor and Abuse, Enduring and Bloodhound. The two that started making a big difference were M&A and Bloodhound. M&A lets me get closer to the Survivors on gens before they know I’m approaching, which is just generally helpful. The expansion in terror radius when in a chase also aids my Survivor locating power, so it gives in two ways. Bloodhound proved most effective for me though, and even at level one, the boost in tracking ability it gave me was immense. Certain maps have very bad scratch-marks right now, and even the ones that don’t, they can often send me the wrong way. Glowing blood puddles though.. much easier to track, and blood shows when you are running in frenzy, whereas scratchmarks don't. I’ve seen others use Stridor and say that it serves them well, but I’ve yet to unlock that for The Legion.

As I said above, I found The Legion to me most effective as an ambusher/stalker. I get my feral frenzy off, hit as many people as I can if others are clustered, or get two hits on one person. I then let myself fall back far enough that the chase breaks. Some streamers have been advocating the “turning away and following them backwards” gimmick. Fair play if they can do it but I don’t bother, it feels pretty cheap to me, but that’s just my opinion. Once I’ve broken the chase by dropping back or going in a different direction, I can then follow the injured Survivor at leisure, following their glowing blood and pressuring them at distance while they need to Mend. If I don’t lose them, there is little they can do. They are going down, either to another attack from me, or their timer running out. Since adopting this play-style, I have 3 and 4 K’d quite consistently as The Legion, with the odd narrow loss thrown in here and there. The enjoyment I’ve gained playing in this way is substantial, even in those losses.

It is very early days with The Legion, with both Survivors and Killers still getting to grips with him, so it’s hard to know what he’ll be like once people are more experienced, and he gets his inevitable patches to tinker with his stats over time. People worry about how viable Killers are at the higher ranks, and where Legion will fit into this, but in my experience, all Killers can do decently well at Rank 1, even Freddy, it’s just a matter of tactics, RNG and who you are facing. You can’t win every game. The Legion doesn’t feel over powered at the moment, nor terrible. I’m just hoping to carry on having fun with him for as long as I can.

Thursday 13 December 2018

Dark Film Review: Nerve

Dark Film Review: Nerve

Review by Casey Douglass


Nerve is one of those films that has been sitting on my Freeview recorder for a little while now. It sounded interesting, but I was just a bit “meh” about actually watching it. Luckily, the other day, I did finally decide to give it a chance, and I’m happy to report that I liked it far more than I expected to.

The Nerve of the title is an online dare game, one in which the participants have to complete dares for money, unless they “bail” or “fail”. When the participant signs up to be a Player (you can also be a Watcher), the Nerve platform harvests all of the online information about you that it can, which may or may not be used for your dares. If you are afraid of spiders, as an example, and you’ve posted about it, well, expect creepy goodness crawling up your arm at some point. Some dares also seem to be crowd-sourced, with people voting on what someone needs to do. There are also various rules, like it has to be filmed on the player’s own phone to count. Another rule is to keep Nerve secret, because “snitches get stitches”.

Vee (Emma Roberts) is a shy, geeky highschooler who lacks the confidence to make any of the important decisions in her life. Her friend Sydney (Emily Meade), tells her about Nerve and wants her to be one of her Watchers, as the more Watchers someone has, the higher up the ranking table they get. After Vee witnesses Sydney doing her dare, flashing her naked backside as a cheerleader at a football game, the pair have a falling out when Syndey embarrasses Vee with the guy she fancies. So, like any normal person, Vee rides home on her bicycle and decides to opt into a sketchy online dare platform. As you do. Completing her first dare brings her into contact with Ian (Dave Franco), and that’s contact beyond a mere “Howdi!” Their paths are then entwined for the rest of the film, as they both work together to complete the various tasks set them by Nerve.

Nerve is a slick film. From the computer graphics of watching people through see-thru mobiles and computers, to the various message exchanges and video recording that goes on, it all has a nice polished, technological aesthetic. Even Ian’s motorbike and various stretches of street lighting glow in neon colours. It just made the whole film quite “punchy” in the visual sense, and I enjoyed this. I didn’t really enjoy the soundtrack though, and in places I found it quite annoying, but that’s just due to the music not being to my taste.

The narrative flows along nicely, although there were a few scenes in which I questioned how much Vee could change in such a short period of time. I wouldn’t say that it wasn’t feasible, but certain things felt a bit overly contrived, the breakups and make-ups sometimes occurring in such a frictionless way, it just didn't feel real. I did like the interplay between Vee and Ian though, and the way that the dares tended to escalate. Many of the dares featured public embarrassment, and I could feel myself cringing as the characters had to navigate their way through them. The ending was relatively satisfying too, although for a film called Nerve, it felt like it played it a bit too safe for my liking.

In a way, the true star of the film for me was Nerve, the platform. A system that can scrape personal information from your social media profiles and other online activity, crunch it all and then turn it into a twisted dare-based challenge system? How creepy and brilliant at the same time. The topic of fear and daring to do stuff is also something almost anyone will connect with, the anxiety that pushing your comfort zone can bring, and the everyday feelings of “Oh, if I’d just taken that chance to say hello to that person, but I can’t”. Add people filming you as you try to do that very thing, and a whole new level of stress gets added to things. As I said, you’ll probably cringe along to a good few of the dares, and that’s not even mentioning the ones that put people in physical danger.

Nerve was a film that I really enjoyed, and one that fits into stuff that I find really interesting. It aligns with some of the other books and films that I’ve enjoyed, such as The Diceman by Luke Rhinehart, which is a guy basically “self-daring” with dice, and even non-fiction stuff like Rejection Proof by Jia Jiang, a book written by someone who filmed himself getting rejected so that he could challenge himself to overcome it. Add in the technology aspect to Nerve, and I found it to be quite gripping.

If you’ve not seen Nerve, check it out if you get the chance to.

Film Title: Nerve
Starring: Emma Roberts, Dave Franco
Genre: Thriller
Directors: Henry Joost, Ariel Schulman
Released: 2016
Distributor: Lionsgate

Wednesday 12 December 2018

Music Review: I Could Go Lucid

Music Review: I Could Go Lucid

Review by Casey Douglass

I Could Go Lucid

Dreams, and lucid dreams in particular, have been one of my areas of interest for decades now. From the lucid nightmares that held me prisoner, to the world-crafting that is sometimes possible, they are a domain in which the mind can unleash and run free. I Could Go Lucid, the latest experimental ambient album from Bodyverse, was created with dream mechanics in mind, the improvisation and flow needed by the dreamer to straddle the line between staying in the dream, or bursting the bubble and waking up to everyday reality:
Album Description: I Could Go Lucid is about an instant of awareness in which I realise I could have the chance to create an astonishing reality, if only I could keep consciousness while dreaming, for more than an ephemeral moment. Lucid dreams mean to me a chance to create perfection as I feel they release the power of imagination in its whole potential. Imagination becomes matter to interact with. It’s the brain’ s virtual reality, the off limits oneiric one.

As well as in dreams, also in the in musical creative process I perceive a certain amount of surreal content, and it too links with imagination and with the act of materialising ideas. For this reason I am currently experimenting through improvisation, in a journey between surrealism, expressionism and situationist drift. I try to let ideas flow, so my will subordinates to accidents and emotions. I become an explorer or a traveller with an uncertain destination. This atmosphere has resulted in a creation of six pieces in which the priority is simply to keep the integrity of the original idea itself.

Nothing has been planned nor post-produced. This is involuntary music.

The first thing I noticed when listening to I Could Go Lucid was the general sound of the notes that reach the ear. They have a fluffy, music-box type quality, a plinky-lightness that hints at white clouds floating across an azure sky, or candyfloss at the beach, or even a balloon being carried off by the breeze. Not all of the notes were like this but that’s how many came across to me. There are higher, chime-like notes too, and deeper bassy tones, but the ‘light ones’ usually made me think along those lines.

The next thing that I soon came to appreciate was how each track seemed to build up. Each might start with a handful of single notes, maybe making a melody, maybe just staying really minimal. This initial opening would then gain an extra layer of new notes, freshly dancing around the previous ones. The first track, Pink Sunsets Were Very Calm, seemed to get higher and higher, each layer adding the impression of floating up into the sky. Yet the next track, Poplars Were Made Of Cherry Blossoms, seems to have the initial notes underlaid by lower ones, going down and down. I liked the way in which each track seemed to grow in complexity, but never getting too hectic or busy. The clever use of breaks and pauses no doubt helped in this also.

My favourite track of the album is Waves Against Marble Columns, as I found myself musing about H.P Lovecraft’s Randolf Carter and his Dream-quest of Unknown Kadath. The notes of this track put me in mind of a clock chiming the hour, and the melody led to me thinking about the various temples and churches Carter visited during his dream adventure, the strange architecture and people who worshiped inside them. There is a kind of lumbering quality to the rhythm a little later, one that caused me to imagine what Carter would have made of a strange funeral procession walking through beautiful streets paved with rock quarried from far and fantastic locations. I enjoyed this musing and I must admit that it’s rare for such a “light” sound to cause my thoughts to turn to something as dark as Lovecraft, but it was a genuine pleasure.

I Could Go Lucid is a fine ambient album, one in which the lightness of the notes hides a surprising darkness that seems to cling to certain portions of certain tracks. A little like browsing the religion section of a library, only to find some naughty git has hidden some porn magazines between the various bibles.

Take a look at the I Could Go Lucid page on Bandcamp at this link for more information and to listen to the tracks.

I was given a copy of this album for review purposes.

Album Title: I Could Go Lucid
Album Artist: Bodyverse
Label: LONTANO Series
Publisher: ROHS! Records
Releases: 18 Dec 2018

Tuesday 11 December 2018

Indiegogo Spotlight: Feral

Indiegogo Spotlight: Feral


I really enjoyed the time I spent browsing Indiegogo yesterday, checking out the new horror projects and just generally absorbing their enthusiasm. So here is another Indiegogo Spotlight from me, this time about a female-led horror called Feral.

Feral is set in an isolated forest. A young woman who is on a camping trip with her boyfriend ends up having to fight a supernatural force that leaves her trapped and alone in said isolated forest. Feral will deal with issues of trauma, violence and shame, and is hoped to "truthfully dissect a painful reality that’s far too familiar for most women, and far too many others, and we hope our film can help in the healing process."

FERAL - TEASER. from Madeline Metcalfe on Vimeo.

The teaser above is certainly a tease, but the music and disturbing smile (and of course, the dribbling blood) all make it wet the appetite for what the finished film could be like. I hope writer/director Madeline Metcalfe and her companions manage to get it funded, as it sounds like a very interesting prospect.

Feral is looking for funding to help with a variety of costs inherent in creating a film, from paying actors, to travel costs and insurance. If you'd like to support this project, you can view its Indiegogo page at this link.

Monday 10 December 2018

Indiegogo Spotlight: The Rave

Indiegogo Spotlight: The Rave

The Rave

I've never been a "raver", I bow to the gods of metal and dark ambient, but when I saw this campaign on Indiegogo, I was intrigued. The Rave is a short horror film in which people take strange drugs at a rave (shock!) and stumble across "gruesome horrors" after ingesting them.

The film is being created by third year students at the Baltic Film and Media School, and the Indiegogo campaign is hoped to help them with creating the "stunning visuals loyal to the techno rave scene. Without money this would be impossible to realise."

As well as being a horror, the makers hope the film will promote conscientious drug use, as it brings attention to the risks inherent in dosing yourself with unknown compounds and creations.

Watch the Vimeo teaser below. I did, and I was quite taken with the visuals and the aesthetics of what was happening. This film looks like it will be well worth watching when it is finished.

The Rave / Reiverid Teaser from Reiverid on Vimeo.

If you'd like to support The Rave's Indiegogo campaign, you can check it out at this link.

Dark Music Review: Esoterika

Dark Music Review: Esoterika

Review by Casey Douglass


Esoterika is the most recent album from Humanfobia, a dark experimental music project from Chile. It consists of two members: Mist Spectra and Sábila Orbe, and is a project inspired by the supernatural, life after death and ghostly happenings. The music could fall into any number of categories, from dark ambient to witch house, but it’s dark, which is the main thing I tend to look for.

On Esoterika, Mist Spectra provides the haunting feminine vocals, her phasing shimmering words at times clear and bright, at others like a whisper from the grave, depending on the track. Sadly, I don’t speak Spanish, so I couldn’t understand what was being said, but the track titles gave enough of a hint for me to get the feel of what was happening.

This leads me to the first track that I clicked with: Gato Negro (black cat). A bouncy electronic tone sets a rhythm, and is soon joined by the sharp meow of a cat. It’s all a little discordant, which is part of the charm. The cat sounds range from the normal to the quite severe, and at times, the other sounds in the track seem to mimic the cat. By the end, I thoroughly had the cat’s meow on my brain, and came away really liking the track.

Next up is Phantasmal Doppelg▲nger. A fast beat is joined by a ghostly wavering voice, while a quieter rhythm sits in the background, carrying the track along. Beeps and bursts of electronic noise join things, a little like a modem handshake at a laser show, and the voice, when it fades and reappears, shimmers. The overall image this track created in my mind was what it would be like for a ghost or creature to come through an old CRT monitor, only to stare the user in the eyes as their double.

Ʃso₸erika is next, a punchy track with a mixture of both masculine and feminine vocals, along with various electronic tones and beats. The vocals seem to stutter in and out, phasing with the pulsing notes. It almost sounded a little like a chip-tune song to me at around the midpoint, something from an old NES video game corrupted by dark influences maybe? A fun track though, either way.

MΛgic Spells of Doom is the final track I wanted to talk about individually. Fuzzy electro noises and vocals from Mist Spectra echo and squelch into a soundscape that's ripe with buzzing activity. There is also a pleasing muffled effect, like the digitized sounds are happening underwater. Later there are what could be the sounds of a radio sweeping through frequencies, maybe the spell-caster of the title tapping into different levels of existence?

All of the tracks on Esoterika are haunting in their own way, the various electronic sounds, samples and tones creating a dark digital space in which technology and the supernatural just might be meeting and bashing out a few obscene offspring. I’m not used to listening to the kind of electronic beats that Esoterika provides, but the dark samples and tone held this dark ambient fan’s interest throughout. What’s more, Esoterika is a free download from the Humanfobia Bandcamp page. You can visit that page by clicking here if you’d like to find out more. You might also like to check out Phantasmal Doppelg▲nger below:

Album Title: Esoterika
Album Artist: Humanfobia
Released: 8 Oct 2018

Saturday 8 December 2018

Dark Film Review: CAM

Dark Film Review: CAM

Review by Casey Douglass


Personal identity has become a far more complicated thing in the age of the Internet. Not only do we have the usual ideas about who we are, but now we can measure our “worthiness” by the numbers we can generate online. Fun to think about, not so fun if we become defined by it all. CAM makes use of this idea, and spins an interesting tale from it.

CAMCAM is an adult-rated horror thriller that follows the attempts of Lola, a reasonably high-ranking
cam-girl, to increase her Rank on the website that she cams for. It begins with her talking to her viewers, reacting to their crude jokes and suggestions and generally trying to charm them into tipping/bidding coins to get her to do things. Being the Internet, it doesn’t take long for the suggestions to take a turn to the dark side. This pales in comparison however, to when she later finds out that she appears to have a double, one who has taken control of her account and is meddling in her life.

This doppelgänger aspect is what I found most intriguing and enjoyable about CAM. The idea that another “me” could break away and be doing the stuff I do online, but in a more extreme way, is certainly an interesting proposition. As far as the film is concerned, it takes quite awhile for the viewer (and Lola) to find out the nature of what is going on, beyond the “Holy shit that’s me!” element. There’s paranoia about it being a competing cam-girl, or one of her fans, or even the cam site streaming old shows again.

CAMWe are kept guessing about the double for what felt like just over half the film's length. The “horror” aspect emerged after Lola’s investigations turned up a surprising thing about another cam-girl. It wasn’t much later that the nature of the doppelgänger was revealed. I quite liked the form it took, and could get on board with how Lola ultimately dealt with things. Even the very end, after things settled a little, proved a surprise as to how she decided to go about life in the aftermath.

CAM was written by Isa Mazzei, a former cam-girl herself, which was something that I had no idea about before writing this review. I think that’s why the film seemed to have interesting terms and details, such as the scenes where Lola talks about finding her “whale” (a wealthy person who spends lots on online currencies for in-app purchases) and also the way that the cam-girls compete with each other. The scene where Lola is watching her biggest rival, trying to learn tips, is a small thing, but in a less thoughtful film, probably wouldn’t have even featured. You also feel for Lola, especially as he secret life clashes with her friends and family against her will.

CAMCAM is sexual but not overly so. The words are the most explicit, and as far as flesh, flashes of breasts and implied nakedness/erotic deeds are about as risqué as things get. There is some bloody gore, but even here, that is quite minimal, and in the context of the narrative, not as it seems. The graphical way that the message room works on-screen is realised very well, the frenzy of messages paced fairly and readable in a comfortable way. The only thing that made me laugh a little was the very specific animated gifs people sent in almost instant response to what was happening with Lola.

If you have Netflix, check it CAM out, I think it's well worth a watch.

Film Title: CAM
Starring: Madeline Brewer, Patch Darragh, Melora Walters
Directed by: Daniel Goldhaber
Written by: Isa Mazzei
Produced by: Netflix
Released: 2018

Friday 7 December 2018

Dark Film Review: A Dark Song

Dark Film Review: A Dark Song

Review by Casey Douglass

A Dark Song

I wrote a news piece about A Dark Song a few years ago, and then promptly forgot all about it. I remembered that it sounded intriguing though, so when I was flicking through the TV guide and saw that it was showing on Film Four, the penny dropped and I might well have gone “Ooooh!” into the bargain. Well, I watched it this afternoon and I’m very pleased that I did. It’s a cracking horror film, in most of the ways that I enjoy.

Sophia (Catherine Walker) begins the film by renting a massive house. She then meets up with Joseph
A Dark Song

Solomon (Steve Oram), an occultist that she wants to employ to help her perform a special ritual, one that will give her something that she wants, and she is willing to pay tens of thousands of pounds for the privilege. She isn’t totally honest with the blunt man, but after securing his services, the slow build of the film begins.

A Dark Song

This brings me to the first thing that impressed me. Many occult horrors gloss over much of the tedium and legwork needed to perform whichever ritual is needed correctly. Not so A Dark Song. From the diet and food provisions, to the salt circle and purifications needed, the first half of the film is steeped in interesting observances and dogmas. That’s not to say that there aren’t any signs of paranormal entities taking notice. There are, but these are quite subtle, more unnerving than horrific. Strange synchronicities, quiet scratchings, stuff about as far removed from the jumpscare-fests that many horrors turn into as you can get.

The other element that makes the quieter half of the film interesting is the interaction between Sophia
A Dark Song

and Joseph, from his grim, sweary manner and humour, to her generally annoying attitude and paranoia. The film made me chuckle out loud in a number of places, usually with Joseph being very blunt, or making semi-frequent use of the C word. Two people stuck in a house together for months on end; the grinding on each other's nerves is a fascinating thing to witness. The house itself is practically another character, the large rooms and creaking wood floors framing the exchanges between the two occupants in a kind of shabby gothic lens.

A Dark Song

The second half of the film is when things turn to their darkest, with events not quite going to plan, lies emerging, and the atmosphere thickening so much that you could stir it with a spoon. Even here though, the film is still the less bombastic side of horror, even the moments of mild gore fairly tame by most standards. Things do escalate at the end, but even there, the final scenes did seem to sit nicely at the apex of tension that had been built up. I guess that’s a wordy way of saying that I didn’t think things went too far.

A Dark Song

The ending, when it came, felt suitably strange, but also a little disappointing. It wasn’t so much the manner of what happens, but the route Sophia decides to take after. I just didn’t buy it, to go through all that she did, to choose the outcome that she opted for. It felt twee if I’m honest, and I don’t really like twee. I also didn’t feel I’d seen enough changes in her throughout the film to warrant such a direction. It felt like watching someone embark on an epic journey, only to turn back for home inches from the destination, having decided that actually, they would rather be at home. As with most things though, it’s probably a matter of expectation and taste, and I won’t let my disappointment with the ending mar what I thought was a fantastic film.

A Dark Song, taken as a whole, really impressed me. I liked the spiky characters, the occult mystique and the attempt to portray the drudgery that grand magick would entail. The supernatural elements escalate nicely, the slow simmering at the start coming to the boil in a pleasing way at just about the right time. I wasn’t scared during this horror, I don’t remember when a horror last made me feel afraid. I was more a tourist of uneasiness, able to vicariously enjoy the tensions of the characters that the film portrays, and I will take that over cheap jumpscares any day. If you’ve not seen A Dark Song, it’s one to keep an eye open for.

Film Title: A Dark Song
Released: 2017
Starring: Steve Oram, Catherine Walker
Directed and Written by: Liam Gavin
Distributed by: Kaleidoscope Film Distribution

Thursday 6 December 2018

Dark Ambient Review: Shub-Niggurath

Dark Ambient Review: Shub-Niggurath

Review by Casey Douglass


I don’t like Christmas. It’s true. Rather than dwell on that though, I will dwell on what I do like, another Cryo Chamber collaboration honouring the master of the eldritch, one H.P Lovecraft. And it is out this December, which is the perfect antidote to all the dross about that fat red guy jumping down chimneys. This collaboration is named Shub-Niggurath, after a tentacled dark god with universal appeal to the peoples of Lovecraft’s shadowy worlds.
Album Blurb: A 2 hour dark soundscape album recorded by 20 ambient artists to pay tribute to H.P. Lovecraft. Dark sounds from dreamy dimensions to never ending cursed forests. Join us in the ritual of lust for the Black Goat of the Woods.

Shub-Niggurath is an Outer God (or Outer Goddess) in the pantheon. She is a perverse fertility deity. An enormous mass which extrudes black tentacles, slime-dripping mouths, and short, writhing goat legs. Small creatures are continually spat forth by the monstrosity, which are either consumed into the miasmatic form or escape to some monstrous life elsewhere.

Of all the mythos deities, Shub-Niggurath is probably the most extensively worshipped. Her worshippers include the Hyperboreans, the Muvians, T'yog of K'naa, and the people of Sarnath, as well as any number of druidic and barbaric cults. She is also worshipped by the non-human species of the mythos, such as the "Fungi from Yuggoth" (the Mi-Go) and the Nug-Soth of Yaddith. With the proper occult paraphernalia, Shub-Niggurath can be summoned to any woodlands at the time of the new moon.

As with previous collaborations, Shub-Niggurath comes as a couple of hour-long tracks, in which the various artists get to flex their aural muscles and stamp their own brand of murk onto things. A little like a Lovecraftian pass the parcel, except with something you’d actually want to have at the end of things, rather than a chocolate coin or plastic comb. As it’s two long tracks, I will keep my comments quite general, but still relate the things that grabbed me.

The album opens with the taut beat of a drum, first singular beats, but ramping up into a more ritual-like rhythm a little later. It doesn’t take long for one of the things I most like about the album to emerge after this: the sound of eerie flute/pipe notes. Maybe I am overly enraptured with the concept of the mad god Azathoth, his throne of chaos, and the “thin flutes piping mindlessly”, but I find that kind of sound far more sinister and sacrilegious than a lot of other sounds. These flute-based sounds appear quite often on Shub-Niggurath, and each time they do, I smile. The other element that occurs at quite regular intervals are discordant string-based notes. These bow and scythe their way through the soundscape, any other flavour sounds bolstered by their allusions to things being “not right” and madness.

As far as specific impressions, my absolute favourite occurs during track two, around 12 minutes in. The soundscape hushes and falls relatively quiet. A wheezing, breath-like sound insinuates itself, and before you know it, you feel surrounded by gurgling sighing things, glugging their way out of the murk. To me, this was the audio equivalent of being at a lakeside, looking away, looking back, and seeing strange creatures’ heads surfacing in the still water. There are a number of moments on Shub-Niggurath that conjure this swampy, humid feeling, of the trees being too close, the ground too moist and the movement at the edge of your eyes being too unsettling. Of course, I liked this a great deal.

Another compelling moment for me, occurred on track one, about 43 minutes in. The sound of chimes and rain soothes, but there is soon a deep whooshing rumbling rhythm that mingles with dripping water. It kind of made me think about what a twisted Ent (of LOTR fame) might sound like, crumping through the landscape. It isn’t too long after this that you hear strange vocalizations, and what sounds like a heartbeat, mixed with curious creature calls. Eerie and magnificent. There are also ample opportunities to hear the sounds of scurrying, wet, chitinous things scrambling through the various soundscapes, so I hope you enjoy creepy crawlies.

Shub-Niggurath is a fitting tribute to another of H.P Lovecraft’s dark gods. The soundscapes created by the various artists all dance around this theme, some are dark, some are so murky even the vision of a Great Old One might struggle to pick out any light. What they all are though, are a remarkable journey into ominous valleys of thought and superstition. The long running-time only aids this feeling, and listening to the whole thing in one long session (if you have the time), leaves the listener feeling like they have travelled much further than the distance their eyelids might have closed. I’ve listened to it a number of times, but I’m sure it will take many more listens to fully take in what is going on. As far as I can tell though, Shub-Niggurath is a fine addition to any dark ambient fan’s collection.

Check out the Shub-Niggurath page on Bandcamp at this link. You can also listen to track one below:

I was given a copy of this album for review purposes.

Album Title: Shub-Niggurath
Artists: Cryo Chamber Collaboration: Atrium Carceri, God Body Disconnect, Dronny Darko, ProtoU, Kolhoosi 13, Neizvestija, Northumbria, Apocryphos, Randal Collier-Ford, Dead Melodies, Flowers for Bodysnatchers, Ager Sonus, Council of Nine, Kammarheit, Gydja, Creation VI, Darkrad, Aegri Somnia, Ugasanie, SiJ, Alphaxone, Keosz.
Label: Cryo Chamber
Released: 4 December 2018

Wednesday 5 December 2018

Horror Teaser: Goodnight, Halloween

Horror Teaser: Goodnight, Halloween

Goodnight, Halloween

I like entertainment that makes use of alternative history, especially when it is used in film. Luther Bhogal-Jones has just released a scene-setter for his upcoming horror short Goodnight, Halloween, a film set in an alternate Detroit in the year 1986.

The world of the film has seen Halloween creatures co-exist with mankind for as along as anyone can remember. But wouldn't you know it, that balance has changed, as a right-wing religious group, KRONA, has pushed the Kreatures Act through the senate, making it legal to kill all creatures on sight. What upset this balance? Only the release of the full film will tell, but I'd bet money on the stupidity of humanity being involved.
I've always half facetiously described Goodnight, Halloween as a mixture of Clive Barker's Nightbreed and The Diary Of Anne Frank - a combination which should hopefully pique some interest in the finished film! - Luther Bhogal-Jones - Writer/Director
The scene-setter is embedded below, and takes the form of a news report delivering footage of a raid, and also the idealism of the head of KRONA, complete with a rippling American flag, with crosses instead of stars... Yup, that sets a pretty interesting scene. One of the idiosyncrasies of the world in which Goodnight, Halloween is set, is that the letter C doesn't exist. Any strange spellings you notice in the video are due to this.

Due to various delays, Goodnight, Halloween has been in production for a long time now, the scene-setter itself shot 12 years ago, and released now as it's positioning in the film became a little problematic in relation to pacing and other issues. I think this is very sensible, and a great way to wet the appetite of the viewers for the finished film, which is due for release soon, all being well.

You can find my thoughts about Luther's previous films Creak and Blackspot by clicking their names.

Tuesday 4 December 2018

Horror Short Reviews: tEXt, VEXED and Bloody Mary Horror Short Film

Horror Short Reviews: tEXt, VEXED and Bloody Mary Horror Short Film

I’ve been feeling pretty rough, which has led me to spend a lot of time on my bed. When I could muster the energy to watch something, I realised I didn’t have the focus for anything long-winded or complex. YouTube came to the rescue however, in the form of a number of horror short films: tEXt, VEXED and Bloody Mary Horror Short Film. What’s more, I’m making hay from those thirty minutes or so of entertainment and squeezing some writing out of the endeavour.



I quite like horror (or any film to be honest), that incorporates everyday technology into the story. It adds another reality anchor to the film, another point of relatability between it and normal everyday life. tEXt is a short horror described as “a modern day take on silent films blended with horror”. The silence comes from the fact that smartphones are used to do the talking, the messages floating up on screen, the actress looking suitably annoyed, afraid or whatever is called for, as she reads them.

I liked that tEXt didn’t take a heavy handed approach to hinting at the situation depicted, a few questions are left hovering in the viewer’s mind. On the other hand, the low number of characters in this film didn’t leave too many permutations, so I did pretty much guess what was coming relatively quickly. Even so, I enjoyed it, and I thought it was a pretty decent attempt at creating that tech-based uneasiness that films of any size often seem to struggle with.

Published on YouTube: 28 Nov 2017
Starring: Kelsey Samara Dacci & Emily Hutchison
Created by: Tye Gibson & Nick Johnson



Next up is VEXED, a short horror in which no good comes from taking the piss out of horror film plots. A couple are watching a low-rent horror on TV, the kind in which “you know the plot as soon as you’ve read the title”. This is pretty much what the guy mutters as he is quizzed by his girlfriend at his lack of interest. She drifts off to make popcorn, and the first uneasiness creeps into things due to a small kiss and a case of mistaken identity.

Later, noises are heard, and the first of the “staring into the darkness” scenes begins. To say more would be to say too much, but the “things” in the film range from very creepy, to slightly less creepy. What I did enjoy was the way the film utilises space-time in a clever way, and it actually made what was happening on screen seem more sinister by letting the viewer have two separate scenes to compare. That might not make much sense, but if you watch the film (go on, it’s only 13 minutes) you will know what I am talking about.

VEXED has won a plethora of awards and nominations, including “Best Bloody Twisted Horror Short at the Twisted Horror Picture Show”, “Fear Awards Official Selection 2017” and was a Nominee for the iHorror Awards 2017.

Published on YouTube: 1 Oct 2018
Starring: Baker Chase Powell, Nosheen Phoenix, Alex Diehl, Joshua Zain, Richardson Jones.
Directed by: Marc Cartwright
Created by: Glass Cabin Films

Bloody Mary Horror Short Film

Bloody Mary Short Horror Film

I didn’t (and still don’t) know much about Bloody Mary, beyond her being some kind of urban legend-type being with the “Say my name three times and I'll appear and murder you” caper going on, but as a horror topic, I quite like the idea of it. The Bloody Mary Horror Short Film features a woman taking part in the “Bloody Mary Challenge”, using her smartphone to film the results as she repeats Mary’s name in a mirror by candlelight.

I enjoyed how the film was shot, but the speech in places was a little hard to hear. I haven't quite decided if this was intentional so that when the louder, jump-scare type events happen, people will have already raised their speaker volume, or if it is just one of those things that didn’t quite go right. It wasn’t much of an issue, but I felt that the film would have been improved with a better audio balance. The build-up and climax were both pretty good, and the bit at the end where the video seems frozen...

Published on YouTube: 19 March 2018
Written and Directed by: Shibu
Starring: Chaithra and Ajay
Produced by: The GM Films


Thanks for taking the time to read this piece. If I had to choose one short as my favourite of the three, I think it would be VEXED, so if you only check one out, maybe make it that one.

If you’ve seen any horror shorts that really impressed you, please let me know, as I’d be interested to check them out myself. Or, if you make them yourself, I'd be happy to take a look at those too.